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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

("Que sera sera, whatever will be, will be. The future's not ours to see, que sera sera ")…Doris Day


Sally November posing with a couple of strange guys? Who are they? Wanna know more? Click on the photos and download a free copy of the ebook:
THE GUMSHOE DIARIES: Fortune Cookies Always Lie

Anh yêu em Tuyet...
Tôi yêu con gái KaSandra & Katrina...
Tôi thương con trai của bố Luc…

Gabriel's Promise
a novel by nicholas sheridan stanton

Chapter Thirty

Standard Pharmaceutical: Board Room…Wednesday, August 17th, 2005…10am

Normally Board Meetings bored Jackson Peck to tears, they were much like the staff meetings he'd go to during in his aerospace days (not all that long ago), back when he pretended to work for a living, and he hated those with a passion. What a colossal waste of his valuable time he thought, surrounded by a pack or pretentious windbags waxing philosophical about mergers and acquisitions, market share and bottom lines, while they tried to "one up" each other in front of the big cheese, dear old dad, how droll.

This morning was a little different though, slightly out of the ordinary because today they were reviewing the annual report before publication to the NYSE and the stock holders. Jackson knew that his father, Sanford Peck, was going to pop a vein when he heard that the second quarter numbers were down, a first for the huge conglomerate and a first for his dad as far as Jackson knew. Patrick's scheme was working well beyond Jackson's original assessment of its potential impact. The three heists had dipped deeply into Standard's management reserves and had struck a noticeable blow to the historically taught underbelly of the SP empire, causing an actual tick downward on Dow Jones, also a first. There is no force more volatile than a pack of nervous investors. They'll turn on you like a pack of wolves! The last thing the company needed was a media driven sell off on the heels of some pretty sensational stories being run in the newspapers and certain popular magazines owned by none other than Pat's or rather Jean-Luc's recently deceased partner, Grover Gateway. It was almost too good to be true. Talk about being at the right place at the right time Jackson thought as he listened to the CFO read the numbers to a very quiet room.

"As we can see here we endured an unfortunate and altogether unforeseen hit to the bottom line during the second quarter, after persons yet unknown launched a series of attacks on our cruise line operations on the Mexican Riviera," explained William "Bill" Hartstein, long standing Chief Financial Officer at Standard Pharmaceutical, and the closest thing to a friend that Sanford Peck had in the world.

The room remained silent and Jackson watched his father for a reaction, but so far he was stone faced. The CFO cleared his throat and took a sip of water from the heavy crystal highball tumbler in front of him. He punched a key on his laptop and advanced his Power Point presentation one slide forward.

"Here we can see that overall Standard Pharmaceutical is strong as ever with a five year growth projection of well over 20%. Ladies and gentlemen, that equates to an uptick in excess of fifty billion dollars. And in this economy that is an incredible testament to the company's solvency as well as the strength, determination and hard work of everyone in this room," Bill said attempting to soften the blow and avoid an epic melt down by the Chairman at the table's end. It was a wasted gesture, just like Jackson knew it would be, and before the sound of Bill Hartsein's voice faded into history Jackson got what he came for.

"SOLVENCY, STRENGTH, DETERMINATION? How about INCOMPETANCE, INSIPIDNESS, and COMPLACENCY!" bellowed Sanford Peck as he leaped to his feet and doused the pull down screen with hot coffee.

Everyone but Jackson flinched instinctively. They were not prepared for this level of rage, but Jackson was, he'd seen it before, first hand. He knew his father's bark was nothing compared to his bite and he wondered who would bear the brunt of what he knew was coming next. Jackson knew his father's tactics, he would wait them out, let them chew on his words for a moment and lull them into thinking the worst was over. Then he would pounce on whoever spoke first or whoever looked the most frightened, male or female, Sanford Peck was an equal opportunity abuser, just ask Jackson's mother. The small gathering of executives began to relax as the CEO's echo faded into a peaceful silence. Jackson scanned the faces around the table and spotted his father's mark. He placed his hand over his mouth to conceal the grin forming on his face and waited for the hammer to drop.

"Forgive me sir, but aren't you being a tad harsh and unreasonable here?" said the overconfident VP of Sales and Marketing, Chadwick "Chad" Gold, the fool.

Bill Hartstein leaned back in his chair and shielded his eyes by placing a hand to his brow as if to block out the sun. Jackson's grin turned to a smile beneath the cover of a closed fist as his father slowly took seat and stared at the soon to be former VP of Sales & Marketing. No great loss, salesmen were a dime a dozen these days, good cannon fodder. The sad thing was that Chad Gold actually thought he had made some points by defending the group and telling the Emperor that he had no clothes so to speak. What a chump!

"Mr. Gold, Chad, may I call you Chad?" asked Sanford Peck with the same look a cat gives its prey before it pounces.

"Please do, I'd like that," answered Chad Gold confidently, convinced now that he'd done the right thing by speaking up. Clearly the boss was impressed with his moxie, right?

"Thank you, and I don't think that you will," began Jackson's father, spreading his fingers and tapping them together lightly in front of his face.

"Sir?" asked Chad, suddenly nervous.

"I admire your sand Chad. That took guts."

"Thank you?"

"You're welcome son. You're also fired," Sanford said in the same tone he always used when he meant to hurt. Jackson was familiar with that as well. No matter how well he did as a child his father kept raising the bar and chastise him for missing the mark.

"You can't be serious? Sir, I don't think…" Chad began before being cut off in mid sentence.

"Come now young man, please don't make a scene and make me call security," Sanford said in the stern voice of authority that came with being the final word on every subject.

The stunned former VP of Sales & Marketing slowly rose from the table, gathered his things and left the quiet room. Nobody watched him leave. They all kept their eyes lowered waiting for whatever was coming next. The wait was a short one as Sanford waited until he heard the audible click of the latch as the door seated itself into the doorjamb. He rapped on the cherry wood conference table with his empty coffee cup to get everyone's attention. The rest of the Board sat up straight, snapping to attention like dutiful soldiers, looking to the CEO for their orders.

"Well that was unfortunate and unpleasant. I trust there are no more opinions to share?" he asked rhetorically.

"Very well then, further to Bill's last chart and statement. True, Standard Pharmaceutical is in tip-top shape fiscally speaking; that is exactly right.
However, this chart is not what concerns me. No, what concerns me most is that someone out there thinks they can fuck with us!"Sanford bellowed slapping the table hard with an open palm.

"Tell them what we know Bill, they should hear it all," he said relaxing and looking back at the CFO.

Bill Hartstein closed his laptop, ending the slide presentation and stood to address the Board. He buttoned the jacket of his Brooks Brothers suit and straightened his stylish silk tie. Bill's wife dressed him well thought Jackson Peck, enjoying the show so far. Jackson leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table and his sharp chin on top of his folded hands. They were going into uncharted waters now. Bill was never part of any briefing he gave to his father and his security team while he was busy covering the team's tracks. He had no idea what the CFO was going to say and it concerned him a little.

"What Sanford wants me to share must stay in this room, is that understood?" he asked the room. He waited for every head to nod in the affirmative before he continued.

"Alright then, as you know Jackson Peck came on board at long last to assume his place as heir apparent, with the support and approval of everyone at this table of course," Bill continued, gesturing toward Jackson with a weak applaud which the rest of the Board reciprocated.

"His first assignment was to investigate this piracy business off the coast of Mexico. And I am happy to report that he seems to have quashed that criminal operation most assuredly. Whoever was responsible for these cowardly acts has apparently thought better of it as they have quite simply disappeared. The assaults on our cruise line operations have ceased, albeit our hunt for those responsible has not," Bill explained, taking his seat before continuing. His last statement caught Jackson by surprise. He was unaware of any further investigation by anyone he was in contact with. That was worrisome.

"Get to the meat Bill," Sanford said impatiently.

The CFO cleared his throat again and continued. "Yes well, let me explain. It turns out these pirates were able to do more than steal a few million from the ships casino computer accounts. As it turns out they were far more clever and ambitious than we originally realized. Our embarrassing loss in this quarter is directly attributed the depth of their piracy. These rat bastards were able to hack their way into our Swiss vault accounts in Zurich," Bill said tapping his laptop for affect.

The room audibly gasped while Jackson stifled a cheer. He couldn't believe his ears. He had no idea how much they were pumping into the G.A.W.D. Foundation. That part of the operation never mattered to him. He was in it only to be a pain in his father's ass, to reap financial havoc, which apparently they were accomplishing in spades! Bill Hartstein opened his laptop and returned to the Power Point presentation throwing up slide with an amazingly large figure representing what had been pirated thus far by Pat's little band of Robin Hoods. There was a low groan followed by absolute silence as his father rose to address the board.

"People, we are going to find these pricks and we're going to deal with them on very personal terms. That stays in this room too as you are now all accomplices before the fact. Are we clear?" he asked without needing an answer. Sanford Peck picked up the handset from the phone beside him.

"Send in Mr. Price," he said to whoever was on the other end of the line, taking his seat and staring at his Board they waited to meet this mystery man.

Jackson made his face blank so as not to draw his father's attention. This was quite unexpected. If there was one thing he was certain of it was that his old man was capable of anything. Jackson didn't like surprises, and he was about to get one. He made a mental note to change all of his numbers and routines as he knew instinctively that his father suspected everyone at this point, even his own son…

Saturday, June 25, 2011

("cause I'm leavin on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again. Oh babe, I hate to go")…John Denver

Anh yêu em Tuyet...
Tôi yêu con gái KaSandra & Katrina...
Tôi thương con trai của bố Luc…

Check out brand new Gumshoe Diaries pictures below...
click on the photos and download your FREE copy of the ebook TODAY!!...

Gabriel's Promise
a novel by nicholas sheridan stanton

Chapter Twenty-nine
Delta Flight 1124, LA to Paris…Monday, August 15th, 2005…11pm

There were definite perks to travelling as my alter-ego, Jean-Luc Rojier. The optimum one at the moment was the luxury of being able to fly first class with my entourage, consisting of two security personnel and my chief of staff (i.e. Sandy, Roman, and Randy respectively). It would have been even cooler if Grover had left instructions for his Lear-Jet to be at the G.A.W.D. Foundation's disposal, but I don't think he expected that he'd be leaving the Earth when he did. Anyway, First Class on any major Airline was still a luxury the four of us weren't unaccustomed to. Actually, it was a little hard staying in character as the dashing Jean-Luc and pretend to be unimpressed by all of the perks and the close attention from the flight attendants catering to our every whim. Sandy and Roman were almost childlike with their "did you see this" and "did you see that" comments muttered loud enough for the entire cabin area to wonder what sort of hillbillies had wandered into their inner sanctum?

"Hey Pat, I mean Luc, check this out homeboy, real silverware man, none of that plastic shit like back in Coach. We're stylin now baby!" Roman said, patting my headrest like a kettledrum.

"Take it easy Jethro, act like you've been here before will ya," I replied without turning around. I took a look out the window and watched the baggage handlers mill around waiting for the tram to bring the load of suitcases and bags to stow in the cargo area of the Boeing 777-200ER. Admittedly I didn't travel much in my former life as a welder so all this stuff was still new and fascinating to me.

Randy Patel stirred in the seat beside me as he fumbled with the backpack containing his laptop. He was a nervous flyer and needed to be blindfolded at take off with an MP3 blaring Ozzie Osborne's "Crazy Train" through his Sony earphones in order to keep him from freaking out and heading for the nearest exit. As long as he was blind and deaf to what was going on he could just pretend he was riding the Space Mountain roller coaster at Disneyland.

"Hey Luc, have you seen my shades man?" Randy asked, frantically searching through his backpack for the thick satin blindfold he had bought at Hudson's in the terminal before we boarded at the gate.

"They're on your head Einstein," I answered, tapping him gently on the forehead.

Giggling he pulled them down over his eyes and settled back into his chair, cinching his seatbelt as tight as he could stand, "Thanks," he grunted.

"I hope you don't need to pee anytime soon," I said smiling. Randy couldn't see my mocking expression but I know he heard it in my voice as he smiled back.

"No worries, I'm freaking a camel when it comes to bladder functions," he replied, placing the earphones in his head and scrolling through his iPod for his prerequisite travelling song.

"Are you ready for this mon ami?" asked Sandy, as he returned from the forward head and took his seat next to Roman right behind Randy.

"Look at you! When did you start picking up French?" I asked, actually curious.

"I pay attention Jean-Luc, I pay attention," he replied in a matter of fact tone, blowing on his fingernails and buffing them on his shirt for affect.

"I see, so in other words my Dad's been schooling you, am I right?"

"Pretty much, cest la vie mon frère," he answered chuckling as he buckled up.

"Touche," I replied.

I watched a flight attendant close the main hatch, she was rather petite and I wondered if she weren't too small to accomplish the task. I know, that was a pretty sexist thought, so sue me, I'm all male! A moment later the screens in the headrests came alive blathering out the usual pre-flight chatter. Tuning out the cheerful voice overhead I closed my eyes and mentally reviewed the details surrounding the next steps of our ongoing assault on Standard Pharmaceutical's billions and billions. Papa and Wesley had gone ahead of us to Cannes in the south of France where Jack O'Shea, check that, where Jackson Peck had moored two brand new cigarette boats for them to modify and equip with the cloaking devices. He had christened the new boats, Heckle and Jeckle, after the battling magpies in a favorite childhood cartoon show. They were exact duplicates of Pixie and Dixie, the first two boats that we scuttled off the coast of Baja California after hitting The Riviera in June. With the exception of the two much larger engines they vessels were identical, right down to the dull paint jobs the cloaking process required. Turns out that we needed the extra horsepower to support the greater distances we'd be covering on this Mediterranean arm of our master plan to pump as much money as possible into G.A.W.D. by draining as much money as we could out Sanford Peck's cheesy empire,the pig!

Jack, who preferred to be called by his given name, Jackson, now that the cat was out of the bag, had spent the last eight weeks kowtowing to his egotistical father, successfully lulling him into a false sense of security by taking credit for eliminating the whole Mexican Riviera pirate problem. Pretty easy to do when you ARE the freaking pirate! Enough time had passed that we felt confident in starting up again on the other side of the world. We had a couple of weeks to get settled before Jackson would join us in Cannes to help plan the virgin assault on dear old dad's Mediterranean fleet of cruise ships. We figured we had about a six week window of opportunity once we made the first heist to grab all we could before we'd have to shut down the operation and go underground again, possibly resurfacing back in the Pacific on the Mexican Riviera again or maybe in the Black Sea around Odessa, although, that option had some serious aspects to consider. Papa advised against it as he said that it was too risky given the fact that the "New Russians" would likely be a factor in that part of the world. Mixing it up with a greedy captain of industry was one thing, it might cost us our freedom, mixing it up with the freaking Russian Mafia was another altogether, it might cost us our lives!

The two Pratt & Whiney 4090 engines began their high pitched whine as they revved loudly in preparation of the race down the runway. Randy was hunkered down in the dark wall of sound he had created, pretending he wasn't where he was. Sandy was looking out the window and cramming a Snickers bar into his face, while Roman rubbed his crucifix between his thumb and forefinger and prayed not so silently with his eyes closed. Everyone has their little rituals I guess, even me. As for mine, well since putting God on the backburner while I followed this self proclaimed noble albiet crooked path to redemption, I had replaced prayer with superstition by resurrecting an old habit from childhood. I'd count backward by tens from 500 to see if I could reach zero before the giant airplane's wheels left the ground. It was a little game that Papa had taught me on long family trips in the car to keep me from asking "are we there yet" over and over. It was a clever little trick / diversion, and it probably saved me from a spanking or two over the years, not that I was spanked often as a child. My dad was a clever disciplinarian, never a mean spirited one. Papa's steadfast rule was never to punish with anger, only with love. It was a philosophy he'd adopted in an effort to avoid repeating the mistakes his own father had made with him and his four brothers when they were children. He wasn't a peacenik, against corporal punishment, he just believed in making the punishment fit the crime so to speak. He did not believe in forcing his will onto his children or his wife, or onto anyone for that matter.

"The only thing you accomplish by pushing on someone, especially someone you love, is eventually pushing them away," Papa would always say. That was some of his home spun wisdom that he shared with me often as I matured and eventually started my own family. Good advice I thought.

These were the thoughts floating through my brain as we raced down the tarmac and gently left the safety of firm hard ground for dangerous and uncertain skies, on our way to write next chapter in G.A.W.D.'s even more uncertain future. A little scary, but a whole lot of exciting!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Slightly longer diversion from Gabriel's Promise than I had planned. There's been a lot of interest in The Gumshoe Diaries right now so I've kept this up an extra day. Don't worry, Gabriel's Promis fans, chapter 29 is ready to post and it will be up tomorrow for you to enjoy and see what Jean-Luc Rojier and his crew are up to now. I continue to receive emails daily asking about the photo of the girl to your right, Sally November, and the story behind it. That picture aas well as the string of pics below are stills from an upcoming "book trailer" currently in production. It will debuet in a week or two on this blog as well as several other venues. Click on her picture and you can download a free copy of the ebook and read all about her. The Press Release below may help you make that choice. I'll also share chapter one with you tonight and will return to Gabriel's Promise tomorrow. Please enjoy my version of classic LA Noir...I think you'll like it...cheers...nick

LA's latest Gumshoe
Author strikes gold with new detective series

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – For those who have been waiting for the next Phillip Marlowe, Sam Spade, Mike Hammer, or Jim Rockford, the wait is over! Nicholas Sheridan Stanton unveils the latest result of his chronically leaky cranium in a clever new detective series he's calling The Gumshoe Diaries.

In the first book, Fortune Cookies Always Lie he introduces us to Whitey Roode, the likeable former LAPD gold shield turned Private Investigator after being "invited to retire" by the brass, as he tells it. The author takes us on a wheels within wheels scavenger hunt for the killer or killers of pretty Sally November, the not so innocent niece of Whitey's close friends and occasionally accurate snitches, Jai Lai and Lu Rong.

The quirky Asian couple, owners of the Show-M-U-Like-M delicatessen, a downtown establishment popular with all walks of life, hire Whitey to find out who done it to little Miss Sally (a.k.a Mei Li Teng). The education her uncles thought they were sponsoring turned out to be more dangerous than the standard three R's, much more.

THE GUMSHOE DIARIES: Fortune Cookies Always Lie
a novel by nicholas sheridan stanton

(the only thing that counts is faith, expressing itself through love) Galations
For Tuyet, whose faith in me knows no bounds, you are my inspiration

(”tell me why, why, why, why you cried…and why you lied, lied, lied to me”)…Beatles

Chapter One

Little Tokyo, Los Angeles California, Monday, Feb 16, 2009…12:30pm

Her name was Sally November. At least that’s what the mailbox said. Truth be told her given name was Mei Li Teng, that’s what the INS downtown said when I checked her out on the way over here this morning. Such a beautiful name I thought, almost lyrical. You know, I’ve lived around the Asian community in this city for better than twenty years, and the practice of choosing English names for their children has always perplexed me, I don’t get it. I suppose it’s one way to fit into the neighborhood, who knows? It was a shame though; Mei Li probably fit this girl much better. Actually, this whole thing was going to be a double shame, because now I had to go back and tell her Uncle Lu that I had found his missing niece. It was going to crush him, I knew that for a fact; as I have listened to him go on and on about her for years, ever since she was a tyke.

Lu Rong, his life partner Jay Lai, and I go way back. All the way back, to when I carried a gold shield as one of LA’s finest. They were more friends than associates, I mean really, how useful are snitches named Rong and Lai anyway (pronounced ‘wrong’ and ‘lie’)? Think about it, it’ll come to you. They are a pleasant little homo couple though. They run a Jewish Delicatessen, yes, I said Jewish, in the financial district on Wilshire, you know the white collar side of town. It had a catchy little name too, “SHO-M-U-LYKE-M.” I know what you’re thinking, cops and queers, strange bedfellows, right? Well don’t be too quick to judge. Go shake your own family tree first, you may be surprised!

Anyway, Lou had asked me to see what I could see after his niece was a no-show at LAX a while back. She was supposed to be a passenger on an inbound Boeing 747 from Taiwan, and in fact the manifest confirmed that she had boarded the plane in Taipei. But when Uncles Lu and Jay arrived to pick her up, guess what, no Mei Li? Lu and Jay had bankrolled her trip to the States where she was supposed to attend USC majoring in business administration with a minor in finance. That was six months ago and now here she was, at the Biltmore Hotel, a run down bastion of yesteryear, quite literally across the street and down the block from my own digs at the Hotel Alexandria. That doesn’t put my skills as an investigator in a very good light, but in my defense all I had was an old photograph and unconfirmed starting place to work with. For all I knew she never actually got on that plane in Taiwan. Nevertheless, here she was, and she was dead. Mondays always suck!

From the looks of things she had traded USC for the school of hard knocks, and decided to go into business for herself using her tuition money as venture capital, courtesy good old Uncle Lu. As businesses go, her choice proved to be an ominous one that included some pretty serious risks, and I’m not talking about the fiscal kind. Sally was young, twenty-five years old, or so her dossier read, and she had big dreams according to Uncle Lu. He said that she had come to the US from Taipei to pursue a career in advertising. Well, she was advertising all right, and her clientele was apparently on the dangerous side.

Her skin was olive colored, smooth and flawless, a veritable walking billboard for the cosmetics industry, the make me beautiful people. She was runway model beautiful. I shook my head with a tsk tsk tsk look on my face as I stared at her corpse. She was dressed in pair of pink silk jammies, well, the bottom part anyway. Her shoulder length hair was pulled back stylishly into a ponytail that started high on her scalp and arched downward, just skimming the nape of her neck. She was drop dead gorgeous, no pun intended, a real China doll, with a look of childlike innocence that immediately squelched any impure thoughts I might have associated with her chosen ‘profession.’ I could feel tears welling up as I studied her with the eyes of a father, an uncle, or a brother. Except for the long silk tie wrapped tightly around her neck, she appeared to be only napping, as if she’d wake up startled by my presence at any moment. But of course, she wasn’t sleeping, she was dead, and that turned my heart to mush, like it would anyone witnessing a mess like this.

“What are you doing here Whitey?” asked the uniformed officer entering the living room from the kitchen. I knelt down beside the body, ignoring him, and fussed with the pink silk tie, careful not to touch anything, using my fountain pen as a sterile probe.

Hey! Roode! That's right, I’m talking to you jack!” the officer hissed in a low anxious tone. I put the pen back into coat my pocket, blew the Sally a kiss and stood up.

“No need to get testy Copper, I hear you loud and clear.” I replied.

“Come on man, Lt. Celaya will be here any second!” the agitated officer pleaded.

I looked at him knowingly and gave him wink, tipping the old and weathered Fedora I always wore high up onto my forehead. I folded my arms and added, “I guess that explains the whispering,” I whispered back. I ran my tongue over my teeth to remove the remnants of breakfast, my usual Pantry special, ham and eggs with an English muffin and coffee.

“It would probably be bad if he caught me here, might look like I’m one upping him.” I said with a grin.

“You’re not on the job anymore Whitey, you can’t just barge into a crime scene like you own the place! Besides, as we all know, Celaya hates your guts! So save me a lot of paperwork and beat it before he finds you here and makes me arrest your ass…again!” I nodded, fitting my hat back into its proper place on my skull, and started to leave. Officer Cooper interjected quickly.

“Not that way Whitey, go out the back, why take chances, right?”

“Natch, thanks paley,” I replied, tapping my temple with my pointing finger.

I did an about face and passed my friend in the blue uniform on the way to the kitchen, where I would make my Batman like exit via an open window out onto the fire escape. Copper’s partner, Patrolman Lewis tapped me on the arm as I went by. “Wait a sec, what do you know about this?” he asked, knowing that I always did my homework.

“What do youknow?” I replied, stopping to face him. Lewis looked at me suspiciously and then answered.

“The neighbor says she’s a working girl.”

“Tell me something I don’t know,” I replied sarcastically.

“Well, the skinny is that she had some interesting playmates.”

“Do tell,” I said smugly.

“Yep, more than interesting, if this fella isn’t bullshitting us that is.”

“The neighbor huh, the one next door?”

“Yeah, that’s the one, right next door. Stay clear of him, if you know what’s good for you Whitey,” advised young Officer Lewis.

“Probably good advice, thanks,” I said, turning to walk away.

“Hey man, it’s your turn, tit for tat ass-wipe, what about you, what’ve you got?” shouted the irritated patrolman. I stopped in the doorway and answered without looking back.

“Oh yeah, her name’s not Sally,” I said, walking through the kitchen quickly and out the window, onto the sunlit fire escape.

I paused there for a just second or two to get a lay of the land. I glanced over at the empty fire escape next door, and made a mental note. Sooner or later I would be worming my way into that nosey neighbor’s life as soon as the LAPD was finished with him, definitely sooner, depending on how lucky later tonight. That would have to wait until I finished telling my good friend the sad news. That part of the job is always the worst. Bringing a mean dose of reality to someone, especially a friend always sucks. I hopped down from the fire escape ladder and hit the pavement at a trot. I would stop by the bar at the Alexandria Hotel for a short one before I walked the six blocks to Lu and Jay’s deli. Delivering bad news is always easier when sauced.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

("When you're gone, hold onto love. That is what I do")…Cranberries

Anh yêu em Tuyet...
Tôi yêu con gái KaSandra & Katrina...
Tôi thương con trai của bố Luc…

Gabriel's Promise
a novel by nicholas sheridan stanton

100TH POST...WOO HOO!!!!!

Chapter Twenty-eight

LA General, Los Angeles California…Monday, June 27th, 2005…6am

It had taken four days but Lizzie was finally over missing her birthday night out with Jace and Noah Kelly. Sure, it was a mini-milestone, you don't turn thirty but once in your life. Well that wasn't entirely true. She seemed to remember her mother claiming that birthday at least twice, and truth be told would probably try it again sometime, and might just pull it off if the room was dark enough! She smiled at that thought and allowed herself a light hearted moment. There had been so few of those in the 72 hours since Katie Tate had had the stroke. That was the urgent call that had derailed her birthday plans. Her cousins were terrific support, as they had been her whole life. The twins were a couple of years older than she and had been the siblings that she never had, both of them as well as their older sister Tori (Victoria Kelly). No matter what anyone tells you about the pluses of being an only child the negatives are far more relevant, the main drawback being loneliness. It doesn't matter how hard your parents try to fill that void there is nothing that replaces the comfort of having someone to play with, fight with, cry with, and laugh with, no matter how annoying they might be!

Anyway, the two young men had taken the disappointment well, cancelling all the birthday plans and replacing them with a ride to the hospital and a long night of fears, tears, and coffee runs. They camped out in the parent's room with all of the Tate family and friends for two days running errands and arranging for take out meals while everyone waited nervously for Katie to show some sign of recovery from a grand-mal seizure brought on by her new chemo regiment. The kid was a fighter but Lizzie worried she was falling into the category of the cure being more dangerous than the disease. But at 3am this morning the rascal opened her eyes and made a little noise, something her neurologists were certain would not happen. The night of her episode they had determined that her seizure had been so severe that she would be blind and mute at the very least, if she survived the night that is. Thankfully diagnosis is not an exact science, and their understandable pessimisms weren't realized. They were wrong, wrong, wrong, thank God!

Lizzie wished the twins hadn't had to go yesterday, but they had jobs to go to and schedules to keep, she understood. The world can't just stop when someone is suffering, although wouldn't that be a nice place to live? She had noticed that phenomenon during the course of her time at LA General. How when a patient first arrives there are armies of family, friends, and well wishers. But over time, as a long illness drags out to an uncertain future, the army's ranks begin to collapse as one by one people go back to their own lives. And when the end is closest, when the one suffering needs them most it is usually just the ones most dear who remain, the ones who would lovingly change places if God were only listening to their prayers. Elizabeth looked through the window at Katie Tate. She was resting peacefully on a bed equipped with an adjustable air mattress, her body attached to a tree full of machines with blinking lights and annoying alarms. There were lines running from here swollen and bruised hands to these devices as well as from the pick-line just above her heart. There was even a line from under her blanket, connecting a catheter to and drain bag at the foot of the bed, the ultimate rude imposition on her personal freedom. Lizzie had had one of those things attached to her once, about eight years ago when she had had gallbladder surgery. It wasn't pleasant!

Katie weakly held a rainbow colored teddy bear with her free hand, it looked like a lifesaver candy with arms and legs. The hand attached to the machine tree was held gently and lovingly by her father who sat beside her in an uncomfortable chair. The television was on, tuned into the Disney Channel with an episode of Hanna Montana running in the background. Nobody was paying any attention. They were all a million miles away. Lizzie wanted to just walk away and leave them in peace, but she couldn't, the Tate child had captured her heart, much like that French kid, Gabriel Bouchard had a while back. She pushed on the door and walked in quietly.

"Hello Dr. Andrews, what are you doing here, I thought you were working night?" Wallace Tate asked in a whisper.

"Actually I'm pulling a double shift, I just wanted to look in on you guys before I went to the lounge to grab a short nap," Lizzie replied, stopping at the foot of Katie's bed and giving her toes a little squeeze.

"How's our girl doing this morning?" she asked.

Wallace Tate slowly let go of is daughter's hand, setting it gingerly back onto a clean white draw sheet. He stood and then bent over the bed to kiss his daughter's cheek, lingering there for an entire minute, and then turned to face Lizzie.

"She seems to be beating the odds according to her neurologist, Dr. Soo," he said as he yawned and stretched.

"Pardon me, I've sitting in that thing they loosely call a chair since one this morning," he added, apologizing.

"No worries. You don't have to tell me about the furniture around here, you should see the cots they give us doctors to use when we pull all nighters, there should be a law!" Lizzie said, commiserating rhetorically.

"Hey, what do you know about this Dr. Soo?" Mr. Tate asked, suddenly more attentive.

"What do you mean?" replied Lizzie.

"I mean how long she been a doctor anyway, she looks like she should still be in High School?"

Lizzie laughed, "That's funny! Carrie is actually three years older than I am; she just looks like a kid. A lot of Asians are like that. I know, my older cousins are half Chinese and they look younger than I do as well. It's NO FAIR!" Lizzie said trying to lighten the moment.

"I see, thanks for the tip. Don't get me wrong, Dr. Soo is wonderful and we have complete confidence in her. I just wasn't prepared for a Doogie Howser is all," replied Mr. Tate, smiling.

Laughing with him Lizzie replied, "Gotcha, who's Doogie Howser?" she asked, dating herself.

It was Wallace Tate's turn to crack up now, "Forget it, I'm surrounded by children!" he said walking over to give Lizzie a hug.

An alarm went off on the tree beside the bed followed by a weak and garbled voice, "Where's mommy?" asked a semi-conscious Katie Tate.

"Oh thank God!" Wallace said releasing Lizzie and rushing back to his daughter.

Dr. Elizabeth Andrews pulled her stethoscope out of her jacket pocket and walked over to the opposite side of Katie's bed. She pressed the button on the railing to summon the charge nurse and then attached the instrument to her ears and leaned over Katie to give her heart and lungs a listen.

"Welcome back you," Lizzie said smiling, a single tear dropping from her face and onto the little girl's. Katie smiled a crooked little smile and sighed weakly. Lizzie sighed as well. Apparently God was listening because her birthday wish was still living and breathing. When love is pure there is always hope. Prayers are answered all the time. When you accept how they're answered, even when the answers aren't exactly what you were hoping for or expecting, there is peace.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

("I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain. Its laughter and its loving I disdain. I am a rock, I am an island.")…Simon and Garfunkle

"And a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries."

Anh yêu em Tuyet...
Tôi yêu con gái KaSandra & Katrina...
Tôi thương con trai của bố Luc…

Gabriel's Promise
a novel by nicholas sheridan stanton

Chapter Twenty-seven

The Studio Diner, San Diego, California…Saturday, June 25th, 2005…9am

I got the news about Grover Gateway's death at six this morning from two different sources. Papa had called The Hotel Del Coronado where Jean-Luc Rojier was staying to inform him/me at the same moment CNN was telling the rest of the world of the great man's passing. I have to admit the news caught me by surprise even though the gentleman was as old as Methuselah! He never showed any sign of slowing down and appeared to be in incredible health given his advanced age. For a man that was in his late nineties he was in remarkable shape!

Selfishly I began to worry that next weekend's G.A.W.D. event would be postponed or maybe even cancelled altogether. That would be a shame as I'd been looking forward to his annual summer gala at the Gateway Building in San Francisco. It was sure to be the event of the season, a great party, but the draw for me was the fact that Sanford Peck himself would be there to unwittingly present a hefty check to the very pirate responsible for the current down tick in Standard Pharmaceutical stock, it was a bit of irony that I wanted to cherish. As sweet as that would be, I had to remind myself to avoid the temptation to rub it in his rat bastard face with any "remember me" comments.

"Excuse me sir, would you like me to top off your coffee?" asked a cute waitress, in a tight white polo shirt and an even tighter pair of short shorts.

Startled I answered, "Sure, why not," looking toward the front door, wondering which of the knuckleheads would be first to arrive.

The young lady smiled and walked away as soon as my cup runneth over, making sure to move slow enough for me to get a good long look at her personal assets. Now I knew why Sandy insisted that we make this place one of our clubhouses! I didn't blame him, nothing wrong with looking I guess. Made me miss Monica though, my wife had an ass cut out of marble, one that Michelangelo himself would have been proud to sculpt had he had a chance to see it. I hate when I get melancholy, it makes me feel weak and vulnerable. Those aren't very good characteristics for the team captain are they?

Loneliness does that to people though, makes them fret over what they let slip through their fingers. Makes them wonder why they weren't paying closer attention to what mattered most. We sacrifice our lives and give our love. When will we learn that love is life, that's the Father's basic plan isn't it? You give one to create the other. I wished that I'd realized that sooner. Maybe I could have cheerfully given Monica all those mores, just like she wanted.

"EARTH TO PAT!" Sandy bellowed, snapping his fingers in my face to break my trance. I flinched and swatted his hand away.

"Cut it out will ya!" I hollered back as Sandy and Roman slid into the large booth beside me.

"Where are the others?" I asked sipping my coffee.

"Your Pop's in the john taking a leak. Randy and the Professor are right behind us. Jack's parking his egghead-mobile away from the masses of great unwashed, or something like that. I don't know, I don't understand half of what he says most of the time anyway," Sandy lamented, signaling the cute waitress to come hither and present herself for his inspection and take his order. She signaled that she'd be right over with a nod of her head. Sandy smiled at her and the then snarled a lewd comment at us.

"Oh man, how far would you drag your balls over broken glass just to sniff the chair she sat on last?" he asked rhetorically. It wasn't a question that warranted an answer anyway, Sandy could be pretty crude. Once a sailor always a sailor!

"Was that really necessary young man?" Papa asked disgustedly as he slipped into the booth beside me. Sandy ignored him and flipped through a menu.

"Have you talked to Mr. Patel yet?" my father asked me.

"No. Not yet, why?" I answered.

"Never mind, he's coming down the aisle now, I'll let him speak for himself," Papa said ordering coffee from the waitress standing beside him. She was savvy enough to know that she was safer next to him than to my leering friend on the other side of the table. She scribbled down his coffee order as well as Sandy's two beers and onion rings order, excusing herself and assuring us she'd be right back after Jack and Randy got settled. Randy slid in next to Sandy who scooted over, pining Roman against the window in the process.

"Do you mind ese!" Roman protested pushing back a little. Jack pulled up a chair and sat unorthodoxly at the head of the table.

"Wesley's not coming, I asked him to run an errand for me up in LA. I need a couple of things for the new boats," Jack said, filling us in and declaring a quorum.

"You mean Heckel and Jeckle?" Sandy asked sarcastically.

"Yeah, that's right. You have something against magpies, squid?" Jack shot back.

"That's enough children," scolded Papa, keeping a lid on the meeting.

"I think you better let Randy say his piece," added Papa as his coffee arrived.

I looked across at Randy and was immediately put off by his demeanor. He wasn't his usual kid-like self. He seemed nervous and struggling with something. We waited a long thirty seconds before he got around to speaking up. Taking a long drink of ice water he began slowly, also unusual for randy who was a fast excitable talker.

"I think I'm being followed," he said with both eyes drilling into mine sans a blink.

"You mean like a tail, like the five-0?" Sandy asked, teasing nervously.

"Not exactly, I mean electronically, like the FBI or CIA, a cyber tail," answered Randy clarifying.

"That can't be good," Roman muttered.

"No, it can't," Jack added, grabbing one of Sandy's beers and taking a long drink.

Sandy didn't even protest and that spoke volumes about the rapid mood swing all around the table. Things were going so well, we had pulled off one medium and two huge heists without a single hitch. We were as invisible on land as the boats were on water. What had gone wrong? We sat there in silence, alternating between staring at one another and out the big bay window next to us. I could read my father's face, his expression said play it cool and close up shop, count our blessings and say job well done. He was a glass half full conservative. The look on Jack's face was very different. His expression was angst, like a teenage kid who'd just been grounded. He was an all or nothing gambler. Roman and Randy were blank pages, and I was somewhere in the middle. But before I gave up the ghost I was going to hear it all. If there was one lesson I've learned real well in all my years it was that it's always too soon to quit, there is a solution to every problem if you have a willing spirit and a patient heart.

I don't know why, but that inspired another flash back of Monica. My wife did not have the patience God gave a tsetse fly. Translation, she had no patience whatsoever, it's what made her mean or blunt as she liked to refer to herself whenever she was driving home a point. She could be harsh but she was always cute, and deep down I knew that she meant well. "It's just how I was raised" she'd lament when she'd eventually come back to apologize for "bluntly" hammering me into the next dimension!

"Alright, let's not panic here. Why don't you walk us through the instances that are giving you the impression that you're being watched," I said to Randy. That got a couple of head nods from Jack and Papa. Randy grabbed Sandy's beer took a sip and handed it back.

"Keep it kid, I'll order a pitcher for the table," Sandy said, signaling the waitress.

"Thanks. Okay let me spell it out. It started the day after the Riviera job, when I was laundering the money from bank to bank through our stable of business fronts around the world and eventually to our Swiss account. The trail is intricate and you'd need the equivalent of an old Cray computer system to crack the 10x encoded ciphers directing our traffic pattern," Randy explained.

"Clear as mud junior, now get to the spy stuff already, who's watching you and your computer?" replied Sandy impatiently.

Jack gave Sandy a dirty look but uncharacteristically kept silent. He must have already heard all of this on the way over. Whatever he was thinking he was waiting for the right moment to share it. This computer stuff was over Roman's head and frankly I wasn't standing too far above him on that ladder. We didn't have to wait long for Randy to get to the meat, taking Sandy's cue and cutting to the chase.
"Alright, I did a little reverse engineering and backtracked looking for who was following our trail. Hold onto your hats, it led me back to Standard Pharmaceutical, right back to Sanford Peck, but with a twist," Randy said, confusing everyone, almost. Randy stopped and looked at Jack, causing us all to do likewise.

"Maybe you should take it from here Jack," Randy said finally.

Jack O'Shea leaned back in his chair and folded his arms in front of him. It was time to live in the light. If he was going to get his chance to drive a stake through his father's heart he'd need to convince this group that he was able to shield them from detection, that he could be their Trojan horse. It was plausible, it could work, all he'd need to do is pretend to be interested in the family business, convince dear old dad that he had come to his senses and was ready to take his place as the heir apparent. He sighed deeply, leaned forward onto his elbows and addressed his fellow pirates.

"My real name is Jackson Peck. I am Sanford Peck's only child," Jack said as a matter of fact. Nobody said a word.

"SURPRISE!" Jack added sarcastically.

"Not funny Jack! What's going on dude? Are you a spy, are we going to jail? Are you in this for kicks? What?" Sandy said, squeezing his paper napkin into a lump of pulp.

"Seriously Jack, what are you up to?" I asked.

"Yes son, why would you help us ruin your own father?" added Papa.

"Why am I doing this? I'll tell you why. Because kids like Gabriel shouldn't be sacrificed to protect profit margins. Because men like my father who worship cash and possessions shouldn't get rich denying the innocent their right to fight while there is hope. That's why!" Jack said, lying convincingly. If we'd known what he really had in mind what happened next would never have happened.

"Well, well, well, so Jackie-kins hates big bad daddy-kins, how nice," Sandy said laughing out loud.

"Knock it off Sandy," I replied harshly.

"Look, can you throw your Dad's security team off of our trail?" I asked.

"Yes, I'm sure that I can, but we'll have to come up with a Plan B because we're done raiding in this hemisphere," Jack answered.

"What does that mean?" asked Papa.

"It means I have an idea, but its way out of the box," answered Jack.

"How far out of the box?" asked Roman.

"Gibraltar is that far enough for you?" said Jack, answering a question with a question.

"Oh I get it! Your dad has a Mediterranean Fleet as well, and he owns a big ass resort and casino on Gibraltar, right?" Randy said perking up, relieved that Jack could call off the hounds.

"Exactly! I can pretend to go to work for my father and feed his security team false leads while we shift gears and take this operation to the other side of the world, its brilliant!" Jack said feeling pretty proud of his quick thinking.

"Whoa, hold the phone rich boy! We don't have that kind of bank to just up and go traipsing off to freaking Europe," Sandy said trying to be the voice of reason.

"I've got to agree with Sandy, it's just not feasible," I said.

"No, it is. Think about it, I DO have that kind of bank to fund the whole operation. What did you think all of the equipment and those speedboats were; Manna from Heaven? Look I'll just hire some fictitious IT geeks, you guys for instance, and viola, we're all living in the south of France, raiding dad's Club-Med Fleet while he thinks I chasing pirates in the Pacific. Think how ironic that'll be. The poor bastard will be paying us to rob him blind!" Jack explained convincingly.

"Can I bring my wife with me?" asked Sandy.

"Do you want to?" Jacked replied.

Sandy thought about it for a nano-second, "Yeah, probably be a good idea," he said while he fantasized about a bachelor operation.

"How much of all of this does she know?" asked Jack.

"She knows it all," answered Sandy.

"Then I guess it's moot…bring her," Jack said.

"How long would it take to make the move?" I asked.

"Realistically, it'll take two or three months to set us up over there. Wesley and your Dad can go over now and start setting up a base of operations. I'll stay here to set the hook with my father. You and Sandy can follow in September. We can be operational by Halloween. Actually, that would be a great job to plan, the casino and the ocean liners will be full of bank going into the Christmas holiday season. And by then we'll have lulled my dad to sleep," answered Jack.

"Sure, that'll give me time to establish Jean-Luc as Grover Gateway's successor for the G.A.W.D. Foundation. You all heard that he passed today right?" I asked.

"Yes I did, such a shame," answered Papa.

"Who's Grover Gateway," asked Sandy.

"Did your parents have any children that lived?" asked Jack sarcastically.

"I'll explain it to you later buddy. Right now we need to outline the next steps because I need to be at Rady Children's Hospital in three hours as Jean-Luc Rojier, and it takes me at least an hour to get my French on," I said pulling a yellow legal pad and a pen from the backpack Monica gave me for Christmas a few years back.

"Oui, oui, Mr. Fabulous, but can we order now, I'm starving," Sandy said, whistling for the waitress.

There was much to plan, and I needed to think how I was going to approach Alma Donnelley and ask her to take Grover's place as the Foundation's spokesperson. I reached over and grabbed Sandy's beer, and took a swig while he protested. I looked over at Jack and studied his face. He was smiling but I sensed it was only on the surface, and only for our benefit. There was a storm brewing inside that man and I wasn't sure when it would arrive, but I knew it was going to be a doozie!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

("Teach your parents well. Their children's hell will slowly go by. And feed them on your dreams. The one they picks, the one you'll know by")…CSN&Y

Anh yêu em Tuyet...
Tôi yêu con gái KaSandra & Katrina...
Tôi thương con trai của bố Luc…

Gabriel's Promise
a novel by nicholas sheridan stanton

Chapter Twenty-six

The Colony, Pacific Palisades…Friday, June 24th, 2005…6:30pm

June gloom was in full swing today as dark ominous skies threatened rain all along the Southern California coastline. Jack O'Shea peeked out of the bay window in his living room at the gray clouds overhead and frowned. Probably wouldn't be much of a sunset tonight he thought. Maybe he'd just take a run on the beach and unwind. It had been a stressful week at work, plus he was anxious for Randy's message to appear in the newspaper as planned. Why the nimrod chose that San Diego rag, the Union Tribune, he had no idea?

Jack was an uber-snob when it came to just about everything, and the arrogant know-it-all was especially rude when it came to his perception of the mainstream media. The dwindling ranks of credible daily newspapers annoyed him. It was bad enough that print journalism was disappearing, forced to downsize and merge into cyberspace to compete for readers with Hollywood gossip mongers, Madison Avenue hucksters, self-improvement experts hell bent to sell you their brand of disinformation, not to mention the bazillion porn sites leading the pack when it came to the number of hits.

Actually, to be fair, Jack didn't think the San Diego paper was all that bad as newspapers went, but he was miffed that the new owners had the audacity to change their time honored moniker. From a banner rich in tradition built on the credibility of truly seasoned journalists, to a droll "ain't we hip" abomination that to his conservative eye disgraced the front page as well as the city it claimed as home turf. It was sorta like your great-grandma trading her cotton bloomers for a silk thong, nobody wants to see that, that's just so wrong! Anyway, he was pissed that he had to subscribe to the rag just to communicate with the team. In fact, just to save face he used an alias and had it delivered to a P.O. Box instead of is home. He didn't want the neighbors pegging him as a low-life!

Jack walked back to the dining room. He spun the dials to unlock his brief case resting on the large oval oak table and opened it. Inside, mixed among the techno-debris and files marked "confidential" and "secret" was Friday's edition of the Tribune. He sat down to see if today would be the day that Randy Patel's coded message surfaced. Quickly locating the classifieds he separated the section from the rest of the paper. Then, after flipping over the front page so he didn't have to look at the repulsive banner he flung the rest of the paper to the other side of the table. Jack scanned carefully, turning several pages before spotting the Sir Speedy Printers ad. It was on the bottom left of page 4 to the right of a list of local garage sales. Jack grinned at the notice.

"Come one, come all to the Peckerwood family's garage sale, EVERYTHING MUST GO! This Saturday, June 25th, 4321 Oak Street, San Diego, call 553-0100."

Jack appreciated Randy's left-handed swipe at his father and at the family's good name, secretly wishing that he'd thought of it himself. He smiled and wondered what these guys were going to say when they found out that he was the rat bastard's kid? So anyway, the team would meet tomorrow at the Studio Diner over on Ruffin Street, not far from Rady Children's Hospital where Jean-Luc Rojier would be presenting a tidy sum to their Foundation from the G.A.W.D. Foundation that he and that old codger Grover Gateway started. Jack wasn't much for sentiment, so the whole noble purpose of their piracy went unnoticed to him. That wasn't what he was in this for anyway. Watching Sanford Peck suffer was all he cared about, and after the Riviera heist he knew that they were striking pay-dirt, having personally witnessed one of his father's famous meltdowns at a family function earlier in the week. That was sweet, and it charged Jack up, and made him anxious for tomorrow's debriefing when he would find out what was next.

Alright, he'd had enough introspective thought for one day he reckoned and he got up to check what leftovers were in the fridge that he could heat up for supper. There was still half a carnitas burrito from Roman's joint in there from lunch the other day; that would be more than enough to get him through the night, at least until breakfast tomorrow morning. If memory served the Studio Diner served huge portions of comfort food so no use packing on the calories tonight, he'd fill his tank over there tomorrow. Jack pulled the Styrofoam container out and gave it the old sniff test. Hmmmmm, he thought aloud, maybe he'd just have a bowl of Cheerios instead. He tossed the leftover cholesterol bomb into the waste bin and shuffled off to his bedroom to change for his run. He was anxious for the next gig, it couldn't come soon enough for him.

Los Angeles International Airport…Friday, June 24th, 2005…8:00pm

Sanford and Killeen Peck sat comfortably in the main cabin of the Lear 40, their light jet that they used for short runs, 1200 miles or less. That would suffice for this trip to San Francisco where they were planning to attend a fund raiser for Grover Gateway's G.A.W.D. Foundation. Sanford frowned at his copy of the Wall Street Journal while the flight crew prepared to taxi onto the tarmac. He wasn't exactly looking forward to this little soirée, but Killeen Peck and that old bitty Alma Donnelly were thick as thieves on the charity circuit. Truth be told Sanford wasn't all that crazy about Gateway either, the old windbag!

This miserable Foundation of Grover's was willy-nilly handing out cash to the masses, forcing his hospitals to waste good money on hopeless cases. Sanford didn't understand why people couldn't just accept the inevitable and let the sick take a normal expeditious path to eternity. All these whiners buying more time, throwing good money after bad, right down the old rat hole, he didn't get it! Now Killeen wanted him to give some of that profit, the only saving grace in the whole soft-hearted debacle, back to Gateway's goddamn pity party! This little trip wasn't what had Sanford's goat, it wasn't important, he'd make a respectable donation and take a bow and a few pictures with the old coot and his new French sidekick, Jean-Luc Rojier, and then beat it on home to LA and take care of some more pressing business. Specifically, he had scheduled a briefing on Monday the 28th, to discuss the recent piracy of several vessels in his Mexican Riviera Fleet. Somebody was costing him more than he cared to admit and he needed to put an end to it before it affected stock values. If he didn't nip this in the bud he'd be the laughing stock of Wall Street. His ego would never permit that to happen, no matter what needed to done. There was only one way to deal with vermin, and that was to exterminate them. The law was slow and weak. He had much better tools at his disposal, and he had no qualms about using them. Yes, this might be a good task for Mr. Benjamin. He would make this go away with an efficiency that Sanford could rely on. Suddenly his train of thought was interrupted by a familiar dull tone.

"Dear, can you buzz the Captain and see what the delay is?" Killeen asked her husband without looking up from her magazine.

"Yes, of course," he replied, opting to get up to make the query face to face.

Sanford Peck unlatched his seatbelt and rose from the plush leather seat. He strolled up the narrow aisle toward the cockpit and knocked on the door. Inside the co-pilot turned in his chair to open it. He removed his sunglasses to address the boss-man.

"Yes sir?" he asked.

"Mrs. Peck is concerned about this delay. What can I tell her to keep the claws in gentlemen?" Sanford asked sarcastically.

"We're number two in line Mr. Peck. This low cloud cover is backing everyone up. Tell her we'll be airborne in 10 minutes max. We'll be on the deck in San Fran at 2200 hours sir," replied the Captain.

Sanford thanked them with a grunt and headed back to his seat. The sooner the better he thought, just wanting the day to be over. There would be a report waiting for him when they arrived to their townhome in Sausalito. He was looking forward to studying for Monday's meeting. Whoever was stealing from him was going to pay handsomely he promised himself as he settled back into his seat and held his wife's hand.

"Thank you honey," Killeen said without smiling or looking up.

"Of course my dear," he replied likewise, closing his eyes and shutting off his brain for the moment.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Tôi yêu con gái KaSandra - HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Today is June the 7th, and it belongs to KaSandra. This post is dedicated to her with all of my love.

Too Soon an Angel

I knew a girl, you may have too
She’d light up the world when she walked in the room
So crazy cute; she’d talk on for miles
She'd crack me up, she’d make me smile
When I think of her knock-knock jokes I just wanna cry

Cause KK was a miracle; her love changed my life
Every now and then the world, ya know it ain't right
When I hit my knees and pray, before I close my eyes
I talk to God and ask Him if, she'll hear my prayer tonight

No one matched her love of life, for her family, and her friends
Her impish smile, her laugh, her cry, the way she'd whine "no fair"
I've heard it said there're hearts of gold, I'm telling you its true
If wealth were measured by her love, we'd all be millionaires

Yeah KK was a miracle; her love changed my life
Every now and then the world, ya know it ain't right
When I hit my knees and pray, before I close my eyes
I talk to God and ask Him if, she'll hear my prayer tonight

She's gone along ahead of us; she's in a state of grace
She's hanging with the Father now, she's saving us a place
Sometimes I think I hear her voice, and I wish that it were true
Maybe angels aren't supposed to speak, when they're standing next to you
So listen up wee angel girl, these words are meant for you
The love you shared while you were here, still lives in me its true

KK you're my miracle; your love changed my life
Every now and then the world, ya know it ain't right
When I hit my knees and pray, before I close my eyes
I talk to God and ask Him if, you'll hear my prayer tonight

Saturday, June 4, 2011

("Why walk alone? Why worry it's warm over here. You got so much to say, say what you mean. Mean what you're thinking, think anything")…Cat Stevens

Anh yêu em Tuyet...
Tôi yêu con gái KaSandra & Katrina...
Tôi thương con trai của bố Luc…

Gabriel's Promise
a novel by nicholas sheridan stanton

Chapter Twenty-five

Gateway Building, San Francisco…Thursday, June 23rd, 2005…6am

Grover Gateway removed the half empty bottle of Redbreast from the bottom right drawer of the credenza behind his desk. He tended to toggle back and forth between whiskies and scotch a couple of times each year, but only with two very specific brands. When it was a whisky he wanted it was always Redbreast from County Cork, Ireland, the Irish iced tea as it were. Single malted and triple distilled in fine oak casks for never less than twelve years, it never failed to be anything but smooth, mellow and full flavored. But, if was scotch that he craved then it must be Macallan Scotch Whisky. Distilled since 1824 at Craigellachie, Scotland near Easter Elchies House in Sherry oak casks, the single malt elixir was a favorite, especially when paired with a nice Havana cigar. Sure, Cuban cigars were illegal, but just like in the military where rank has its privileges, so it was in the private sector with the rich and powerful. It was a socioeconomic perk that Grover rarely exercised. Let's face it, at the tender age 0f ninety-something who gave a rat's behind how he spent his money as long as he wasn't hurting anyone? Besides, at his age the old ticker needed a little kick start from time to time. A healthy shot of whisky or scotch added to his morning coffee was more medicinal than social.

This morning the elder statesman of print journalism had a personal matter to ponder, wondering how to balance his new friendship with Luc Rojier and his lifelong friendship with Alma Donnelly. He and Jean-Luc had bonded quickly and that made him uncomfortable. He never made friends quickly, but this man was hard to push into the background. Luc's charming manner and his genuine passion for his cause had uncharacteristically captivated Grover. Even more amazing was how easily Alma had accepted him into her circle of influential land barons and old money socialites. She was far more cautious and guarded than he, so the ease in which Luc blended in had him questioning instincts he had honed over a lifetime of right moves? Grover was no fool. He understood that everyone had their secrets, which with certain reservations was normal and acceptable as he also knew that the truth always percolated. Still, he had vetted the man to the nth degree. If Jean-Luc were any kind of threat Grover's people would have discovered it by now.

So why was he sitting in his office wrestling with his overly analytical, hyper sensitive intuition? Because it had never been wrong before, that's why! Grover sipped his Irish coffee and stared out into the empty newsroom. The masses would be arriving soon, they would start trickling in around 7am, kids are so lazy these days. Everyone was a kid to him. He smiled and closed his eyes for a moment. Maybe a ten minute catnap would subdue his suspicious nature? Not likely, but being a kid again, even for ten minutes would be nice. If you can't beat em, join em, right? He made a mental note to have dinner with Alma later. They could chat more about Jean-Luc Rojier over some pasta carbonara and Chianti at the Stinking Rose in North Beach. A moment later Grover Gateway was sound asleep. It was 7:15 in the morning. At precisely 8am Jerome Longfellow entered his boss's office to deliver the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, as was his duty each and every work day. Mr. Gateway read the news from coast to coast every morning before he took any calls, he was religious about that.

"You can't speak intelligently about anything if you're uninformed," he would always say. Jerome stopped abruptly when he saw the boss man asleep in his chair. That wasn't normal he thought? He started to apologize and then held his tongue.

"Oh my goodness," Jerome said nonplussed to the room.

Grover Gateway's personal private secretary walked over to the desk and set the newspapers down. He went around and stood beside Mr. Gateway. Leaning over he calmly touched two fingers to the old man's neck, feeling for his jugular vein. There was no pulse. Grover Gateway was cold and quite dead. An era had come to an end and Patrick Bouchard would continue to be Jean-Luc Rojier.

Hudson Towers, Los Angeles, Thursday, June 23rd, 2005…9am

The alarm went off for the fourth annoying time! Lizzie calmly rolled over, picked up her cell phone and deactivated it. The previous three times she must have been sound asleep because she didn't remember hitting the snooze function at all. The darn thing was programmed to pester her every quarter hour. No worries she thought, nothing was going to ruin her long awaited day off. Her cousins Noah and Jace were in town and the Kelly brothers were treating her to a spa day with the works. That meant a full body massage, a mani-peddie, a full facial treatment, plus a total exfoliation treatment, and capping it off with a nice relaxing steam, heaven! Then it was supper at Patina's in North Hollywood followed by a night of comedy at the Laugh Factory in Hermosa Beach. One of her favorite comics was there tonight, John Pinette, she loved that guy, he was hysterical!

"Just what the doctor," ordered she muttered, as she yawned, stretched and climbed out of bed.

The boys would be here in a couple of hours so she didn't have to rush but it was time to scoot. Why the royal treatment you ask? Two words, BIRTH - DAY baby! Yeppers, today was Elizabeth Andrews' 30th birthday, a major milestone in her young life. She hadn't yet listened to the messages stacked up on her cell yet, but she knew Mom and Dad were the first to call, they always were. Her Dad would have called at 12:01 on the nose to toast her with his usual nightcap before turning in. Her Mom would be call number two, around 12:30, right after she finished placing a New York Yankees blanket on Dad who probably had made it as far as the divan in their bedroom before passing out. Sean Andrews didn't have a drinking problem; he was just a problem when he drank. Curse of the Irish he'd say to anyone who asked.

Lizzie undressed on the way to the bathroom, leaving a trail of nightclothes from her comfy bed to the shower. She pushed her hair back and fashioned a ponytail high on her scalp, securing it with a hair tie from the dish on the countertop. Pushing the shower curtain aside she turned on the water and held her hand under the stream until it was hot enough to step in. She stepped in under the large rain style faucet and soaked her hair, reaching for the shampoo with her eyes squeezed shut. As soon as she started to lather up the buzzer went off in the living room.

"ARE YOU KIDDING ME!" she hollered at the ceramic tiles lining the tub and shower. She quickly rinsed the shampoo from her hair, grabbed a towel for her head and one to wrap around herself to go answer the door. It was probably her cousins but if it was TURDMAN from next door there was going to be a murder in the city today! The buzzer went off one more time.

"I'm coming, I'm coming!" she yelled at the closed door.

"Open up Elizabeth, we got a fire hazard going out here," shouted one of the twins, either Noah or Jace. She couldn't tell them apart by the sound of their voice, they were identical in every way.

"Alright, I'm here, what's the problem?" she asked opening the door.

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY SMALLS!" the brothers shouted as they held onto a four layer German Chocolate cake laden with 30 flaming candles. It really was a fire hazard.

"Oh man, you guys are crazy!" chuckled Lizzie, holding the door for them as they rushed by her to set the cake on her kitchen table.

"Come on Lizzie, blow these things out before they set off your smoke alarm," said Noah Kelly as he licked icing from his fingers. She went over to the table to blow out the small inferno. "You guys aren't going to sing are you?" she teased, huffing and puffing and extinguishing the fire in the small wax forest.

"Thanks guys, that was sweet. Why don't you cut us a slice while I finish my shower and throw on my sweats for spa day…woo hoo, Happy Birthday to me!" Lizzie said as she jogged back down the hall to the bathroom.

"You got any coffee?" Jace hollered as he searched through her cupboards.

"Only instant, top shelf on the right. You need to boil water, think you two lawyers can handle that?" Lizzie teased, closing the bathroom door and not waiting for a reply. Her cell phone was blinking on the linen shelf where she had left it. She picked it up and saw that she had a text to read. It was from Linda Bradley at LA General.

"Wonder what she wants," Lizzie muttered as she maneuvered the device to bring up the text.

"Sorry to bother you on your birthday Dr. Andrews. It's Katie Tate. Please call ASAP…Linda Bradley"

Elizabeth set the phone down and returned to the shower. She twisted the knobs and climbed back in as soon as the water heated back up. Standing under the pulsating stream of hot water she let it massage the tension out of her, the steam rising to fog up the mirror. Something told her that there'd be no comedy for her to enjoy today. Such was the life she chose. You took the good with the bad and hoped the former outweighed the latter. Still, was it too much to ask for one day a year all to herself? Of course it was…again, this was the life she chose. Noah and Jace would understand; they were family, they were the brothers she never had.

What was up with Katie Tate anyways she wondered? Whatever it was, it must not be good if it couldn't wait a day. What a way to start this new chapter in her young life. She wished her mom were here, she needed one of her famous mother hugs to keep her mood from souring, and to remind her that God has a plan for everyone. So far she didn't like the plan he had for Katie Tate. It reminded her of Gabriel Bouchard. She gasped as soon as she remembered the little boy with the big smile and dropped the soap.

"Oh my God Gabriel, it's your dad, he's the face in the paper! I knew I'd seen that face before. But why's he pretending to be that French guy, and what's he got to do with someone like Grover-freaking-Gateway?" she asked herself, turning off the water. Why indeed? She was going to find out though, that much she knew for sure. Solving this little mystery would be her birthday present to herself.

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